Matt Garza vs. Edinson Volquez

Garza picked up his first win with the Cubs in his last start against the D-backs, giving up three runs on six hits over eight innings. He struck out 10, and finished April with a club-record 51 Ks for the month. Volquez is still struggling with his command (6.48 walks per nine innings), but he is coming off one of his strongest performances of the season. Volquez limited the Marlins to one run on two hits April 30.

Casey Coleman vs. Bronson Arroyo

Coleman is coming off a loss to the D-backs in which he gave up four runs on four hits and five walks over five innings. In two games last season vs. the Reds, he gave up six runs on 10 hits and two walks over nine innings but did not get a decision. The long ball plagued Arroyo in his last outing, as he surrendered three home runs in a loss to the Marlins. He had served up just four round-trippers in his previous five starts combined.

Carlos Zambrano vs. Chris Carpenter

Zambrano picked up the win in his last outing against the Dodgers, his 10th straight win on the road. He has yet to win at home this season in three starts. Against the Cardinals last year, Zambrano was 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA. Carpenter is off to a rocky start in 2011 and has yet to record a win through his first seven outings. He got hit hard in his last start, on Wednesday vs. Florida, when he allowed six runs (four earned) in six frames and made two errors.

Amanda Cross Scouts the Reds

Who’s Hot
After a slow start to the season, Jay Bruce has suddenly woken up the last couple games. He went 3-for-4 on Thursday and scored three runs. Joey Votto has NOT had a slow start to the season: he’s reached base in every game so far. In fact, he’s reached base in 48 straight starts, spanning back to last season. Chris Heisey has had three straight starts (one in each of the outfield positions) after not seeing much playing time so far. He’s currently leading the pinch hitters of the league in batting average.

Who’s Not
Scott Rolen’s injured, which isn’t exactly the same as being not hot, but his time away from the field has corresponded with the team’s recent doldrums. The starting rotation has been rocky, with a particular penchant for giving up runs in the first inning. However, Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey are finally joining the team after starting the season on the DL. They are a marked improvement over Mike Leake and Sam LeCure who were called on to fill their shoes.

Stuff to Make you Sound Smart ‘Round the Water Cooler
Wednesday’s game was only the 53rd game in Great American Ball Park’s existence in which no home runs were hit.

Predictions for the Series
The Reds dipped below .500 for the only time this season on Tuesday after a string of extremely frustrating-to-watch games where the pitching just could not stop the bleeding. With the intended opening day rotation finally in place, I’m optimistic that we’ll see a return to form. I predict the Reds take 2-of-3.

Amanda blogs about the Reds on her site, Red Hot Mama. It sounds like porn, but it’s really about the Reds.

Follow her on Twitter @rhm17

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail